“Get a seat at the table or create your own table and lead it.”
Varetta Huggins – Most Powerful Women in Business
Varetta Huggins life story is about setting goals and doing the work daily to achieve them. Her life began on the small guitar-shaped island of St. Kitts in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean. A fertile sunny island blessed with fruit and vegetable trees, beautiful beaches with aquamarine oceans, and friendly people, makes St. Kitts one of the most beautiful islands all year round. She grew up in a single-family home with her mom and her little sister and by island standards, they were poor, but the island provided the food and water they needed daily to survive. She remembers her mom’s constant voice telling them to “make something of yourselves…and do well in school” because her mom did not complete her schooling. Her mom had her sister and her as a teenager and was forced to end her schooling early to raise them. This fueled Varetta’s goals as a teenager which were to pass her end of grade exams annually and to graduate high school. During her last two years in high school, she met a teacher who became her mentor and told her she could study Computer Science in college and her goals were expanded to go beyond high school. After graduating high school, she started applying to colleges. When she applied to Hampton University, she had to complete an essay which required her to describe her short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals and share how she would change the world with a degree from Hampton University.
Her long-term goal was to own a software consulting company and she knew that to be able to make this a reality she needed to have a degree in Computer Science and to understand how to manage information technology and people. Her short-term goal was to graduate college with a degree in Computer Science and her mid-term goal was to graduate college with a master’s degree. She got married in 1995 but decided to continue pursuing her goals instead of starting a family immediately. She was accepted into the Computer Science program at Hampton University and in January 1997 she arrived in Hampton, Virginia where the cold immediately reminded her that she was far away from home. The campus of Hampton University was surrounded by water, and the beautiful trees, flowers, and friendly people reminded her of home. She graduated Hampton University in three and a half years then landed her first job in 2000 at NASA’s Langley Research Center as a Computer Programmer and Analyst working as a Government Contracting Consultant for SAIC. She had achieved her short-term goal then began working immediately to complete her mid-term goal.
She moved up to the DC Metropolitan area in 2002 and transferred within SAIC to work at NOAA’s National Weather Service as an Information Engineer. She quickly enrolled in a master’s program at the George Washington University and attended classes during weeknights. She graduated in 2005 with a master’s degree in Information Systems Technology concentrating on Management Information Systems and a Certificate in CIO Federal Executive Competencies. She also gave birth to her first child in 2005 while working on her degree. She had achieved her mid-term goal, did well in school, and started her family, all in the same year. She needed to gain more working experiences as a Government Contracting Consultant before she could complete her long-term goal. She left SAIC to work with another Government Contractor and became one of the first Consultants hired for a new government contract at NOAA’s National Weather Service. She transitioned engineers, managers, and other staff onto the contract then began managing numerous projects on the contract. She then obtained her Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification from PMI then moved to work with Government Contractors at the Federal Aviation Administration then back to NOAA’s National Weather Service.
In 2009, she found a business mentor then she decided to start a Government Contracting company based on her strength of IT Project Management. In November 2009, V-Project Management Consulting LLC was born, and the logo included colors from the Caribbean Ocean. Her first Government client was the Federal Aviation Administration, and she became the first billable Government Contracting Consultant for V-Project Management Consulting LLC. It was at this moment that she felt she had made something of herself and achieved her long-term goal. Today, she is the President and Chief Executive Officer of V-Project Management Consulting LLC where they offer Enterprise Program Management Office services to their government clients. Their contracts included working with FAA, ED, USDA, DOJ, and USAID and they have hired up to 20 employees and consultants since their inception. In 2018 Varetta started the V-Government Contracting Success Program where she speaks across the U.S. to business owners about navigating Government Contracting and offer Executive Business Coaching services to business customers. As she looks at the work they have done for their government and non-government clients, she can truly say that her knowledge and work has changed the world.
Live Every Day by Purpose
To live every day by purpose by inspiring and empowering business owners to achieve personal, spiritual, professional, and financial growth, even more. She understands that being a speaker, mentor, and executive coach means that she is given the voice to influence others who are looking for someone to fill the gap and inspire them. Empowering others mean that I give them the knowledge they need by showing them how to fix the problems that arise in their businesses.
Varetta’s says Client Centricity as her greatest strength
One of her greatest strengths is that she listens to her customers and provide them with the solutions they currently need based on where they are at in their business journey. Their competitive advantage is that they show their customers how to solve their current needs not just provide to them what they need. She calls this their how to fish approach. In most cases, business owners who come to them for government contracting or business services have already shopped around before and whether it be government provided services or consultants, they were told what they needed to do to solve their problem. So, what they needed to do to be able to fish in government contracting. For many of them, the government contracting fishing pond is huge and has lots of terminologies, registrations, databases, and paperwork that they do not understand. So just telling them go do this or go to this site is overwhelming for them. Their how to fish approach starts with a Discovery Call with Varetta and the customer, where Varetta understands their current need then walk the customer through the procedure steps of how to solve that current need. That can happen at the Discovery Call or a follow-up Group or one-on-one Session with the customer. At the end of that session, the customer walks away with goals, strategies, and actual steps they can start applying to complete the registration, find the answers, search the database or correct the issue.
“Oh, Happy Days! So, I did exactly what you said and the Dept. of Ed ASKED ME for a meeting. I’ve NEVER had an agency ask ME for a meeting. I’m in shock and joy all at the same time. Thank you, Coach!” Natasha Davis, Impact Branding Consulting (V-FedCon Turquoise Customer).
Mother and Daughter are Varetta’s Inspiration
Her mom and her daughter inspire her the most. Her mom raised her sister and her as a single parent and there were times, they did not have much to eat or money to pay the bills, but her mom kept going. Varetta saw her mom going to work and, in some cases, working two jobs and coming home late just to provide for them. Varetta has that work ethic now and that is what drives her to provide for her family. She knows the struggles her mom went through to allow her the opportunities she has today, and she wakes up on purpose every day to ensure she uses the opportunities given to inspire and empower others like her daughter. Varetta knows her daughter is watching her work ethic to figure out what type of life she is going to have in the future and that encourages Varetta to share her story with her daughter to let her know that her story is Varetta’s and her mom’s story.
Recognitions and Accreditations
ü One of their newest contracts in 2021 is for Executive Recruiting Services for the Federal Aviation Administration. V-PMC was able to recruit for the Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety position and one of the candidates they recommended was hired for the position and is now Acting FAA Administrator.
ü V-PMC was awarded $2.5 Billion as a Master Contractor on the U.S. Department of NAVY, Seaport Next Generation contract in 2021.
ü Varetta was featured on the cover of the Women Leaders Magazine as one the 20 Most Inspiring Women Leaders 2021.
ü Varetta was featured on the cover of the Insights Success Magazine as one of the 10 Most Admired Women Leaders in Business 2022.
The toughest obstacles faced in career as a Women
One of the toughest obstacles she faced in her career was gaining access to capital. She feels as though women have it harder than men to gain access to capital just because the society and financial systems see them as a high risk. Women are being told we either need a male to be our guarantor or we need to give up our house to obtain the capital we need to operate our business. In one of her applications to obtain capital after obtaining their first prime government contract, she was asked to have her husband co-apply with her for the business loan. When she responded that she was 100% owner of the business and she did not see the need for her husband to co-apply for her business loan, she was denied the loan and many loans after that. She had to use factoring to be able to secure funds for their first prime government contract. Since then, she has lobbied to Congress with organizations such as Women Impacting Public Policy and U.S. Women Chamber of Commerce to be able to change policies to allow women to gain access to capital without requiring men. Unless the policies of the financial institutions are changed, this will still be a huge obstacle for women business owners today.
We live in a male-dominated society, one thing every woman must possess is a disruptive mindset, think out of the box to see exponential growth
Every woman must possess a disruptive mindset. Women must disrupt the way they lead, inspire, empower, and operate by changing the way they do business today. In her power talk, the Disruption Mindset, Charlene Li challenges us to “do not be satisfied with the place where you are at today” and to “step out of your comfort zone“. Women must be reminded that to make effective change in a male-dominated society they must change the way business is done as usual. They must think outside the box to come up with new services and products based on current needs. They must implement new systems, use new tools, hire talent using different methods, and change their operational processes and procedures. They should always be innovative to offer new and competitive services and products but always focus on their customer’s needs. Women have to learn to be versatile in business by using the resources they currently have to get their business where they want it to go. That might mean changing their current service offerings to meet the current need or taking their existing product and adjusting it to meet a new demand. So women, get uncomfortable and disrupt your businesses, so you can see exponential growth!
For the next generation of women heroes
Get a seat at the table or create your own table and lead it.